Half iPod-docking station, half HiFi brilliance, the AkitiMate Mini Speakers proves that appealing to both the consumer and audiophile community is something that can be done. Fortunately for them, they've managed to pull it off with flying colors, even if the price tag may cause you to guilt trip yourself into never spending that much on a set of speakers ever again. Or so we keep telling ourselves.
If anyone's followed popular speaker culture in the past few years, you'll immediately recognize the similarities of the AktiMate Mini's to the Audioengine A5's. However, there are a number of things that set it apart.
Let's start off with the similarities. Both offer a glossy white design (the AktiMate also comes in glossy red and black) and both have a right-speaker that's passive with the left having built-in amplifiers, inputs, and outputs.
Compared to the A5's, instead of a mere USB plug on top, you get a complete docking station for your iPhone/iPod. Using the included remote, you can easily create a remote listening station without the need of AirPlay, although the inclusion of that technology would've been nice.
In contrast, the A5's have the option to plug in an Apple AirPort Express into the back that feeds into their AUX port, allowing for the ability of an AirPlay-like station. The AktiMate does not include such features aside from two modes of input.
Being priced at nearly two times the cost of the competition, you know there has to be something else going on here. We can say for a fact that performance is where the AktiMate blows the A5's out of the water.
Audiophiles can attest that wattage is only 10% of the story when it comes to performance. At a mere 40 watts (compared to Logitech's 400 watt systems we've seen on the market), the sound delivered from these babies are rich and vibrant, emphasizing performance over bass. Truly, it is one of the better bookshelf speakers we've tested with an integrated amp.
Throwing on movies, games, podcasts, and digital MP3's ripped at 320kbps, you really get the most out of guys. Every little detail can be heard, from the crackle of a bad record rip to the background ambient noise in a subway movie scene - after a while, you almost forget you're listening to speakers. For that, it is an amazing set of speakers.
The bass isn't particularly boomy, however, but feels tight and controlled (much like Grado headphones, if you've had the opportunity to try them out). We would probably welcome the addition of a small subwoofer to complete out the lows and complete the wonderful sound.
They're also quite small, so you might want to add some stands to raise it up to normal listening levels.
All in all, we would recommend the AktiMate Mini Speakers to anyone with the appreciation for 'a good ol' set of speakers' that don't overload on the fluff and focuses on performance. AirPlay integration would've been nice for those who just want to stick it on our bookshelves and the option for a subwoofer is also something that should be explored in the future to complete the set.
Pros: Excellent all-around performance, quality build, sexy simplistic design.
Cons: Costs about twice as much as the Audioengine A5's, AirPlay integration or ability to upgrade would have been welcomed.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did loan us the product for testing and review purposes.